Election 2020

Can a Barn Painter and a Barn Owner Come Together to Elect Donald Trump?

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Synchronicity enters our lives in strange ways, and at unexpected moments. For the religious, these moments are almost always ascribed to faith. It’s a guide to knowing in confusing times, a found gift when everything seems in the process of being taken away.

I chalked it up to divine messaging when I read Victor Davis Hanson’s National Review Online column, “White Elites Versus White Working Class.” In the essay, Hanson writes about a barn painter, and my painting company just happened to be under contract to paint a barn the week the piece was published. Hanson does not specify that his particular barn painter supports Trump, but the inference is that his kind does.

Although I always read Hanson’s work on PJ Media, I might have missed his April 12 NRO piece had Newt Gingrich and Bill O’ Reilly not referenced it on The O’Reilly Factor.  They were saying that Hanson had nailed an intrinsic truth behind the rise of Trump, theorizing that the working- and middle-class anger so evident this cycle is more directed at white elites, for their crony corruption and dereliction of duty, than at Trump’s deserving rhetorical targets: illegal aliens, cheating foreign trade ministers, and insidious Islamic extremists.

Hanson’s barn painter serves as the embodiment of the culturally hardscrabble, abandoned white worker bee. Syncronicitously enough, that Friday my crew and I began prepping a 5000-square foot barn on a remote hilltop outside Banks, Oregon.

I’ve worked for this customer before, just like Hanson’s barn painter, who periodically returns. I know from past conversations about past campaigns that he and his wife are conservatives. He achieved significant rank as an Air Force pilot, is adamantly in favor of small, unobtrusive government, and is a strong believer in the Christian faith.

As we pressure washed sixteen years of wasp and spider encrustations off the barn’s eaves, I thought to myself, I bet he’s for Senator Cruz, and has no use for Trump.

I bet he’s for Cruz, but I don’t ask. Not this cycle. It’s as if my conservative client has become like the Democrats I steer clear of politics with. Business is business, and you don’t want to ruffle feathers. The barn is coming along; by the time we get the scraping and priming done, Trump has hugely won the New York primary.

Reading comments on the Hanson piece, I found the usual. Trump fans mad at the final thrust, a reiteration that the author does not consider Trump qualified to be president and believes he should be stopped. Though I disagree, I didn’t take the least umbrage at the summation, and was appreciative of the nuance and angle that Hanson brought to the story.

We need to deeply consider why we support a given candidate, examine our motivations, and face up to reasoned and legitimate criticism. I haven’t shied away from such criticism of Trump, have in fact read and considered a compendium’s worth. Of course I’ve known for years that Republican voters are angry at the Washington/New York elites. I had not considered that they are angrier with white elites than with Trump’s usual suspects.

I wish that every Trump supporter would read Hanson’s piece, because there’s a reason the ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself” has resonated for millennia. Know your motivations, face up to criticisms, understand why you’re making the choice you’re making. That’s the best way to be able to defend that choice and live with it, whatever happens.

As far as Trump’s concerned, I’m still good.

I’m glad that he has hired campaign veteran Paul Manafort, the embodiment of an establishment professional, to manage his campaign. The day we put the last touches of trim paint on the barn, Manafort met with high-ranking Republican officials to discuss the “presidentialization” of Donald Trump.

Another intrinsic truth about the Trump phenomenon, as Hanson and others have pointed out: there’s a definite nihilistic vein running through it. It is a promise of creative destruction, and it’s the do-nothing, sell-out elites, white or otherwise, whom Trump’s legions are primarily coming for.

I don’t think that a President Trump would destroy America, or the GOP. I’ve not convinced he will lose for Republicans the House and Senate. I believe it’s possible he could chip away at the calcification of Hispanic and African-American voting blocs. Don’t think Trump is a staunch conservative? Maybe not, but the self-identified staunchest conservatives on the Eastern seaboard threw their eggs in Trump’s basket on April 26.

I think he can beat Hillary Clinton, and I’m willing to give him a shot.

To put it in New York terms, “You know where you can stick your unfavorables.”

The unspoken question remains: can a barn painter and a barn owner come together at last and elect Donald Trump to the presidency?